5 Tips for Leading a Latino Small Group

5 Tips for Leading a Latino Small Group rectangle (three people at a table conversing)

5 Tips for Leading a Latino Small Group 

Thank you for leading a Latino small group! We are so grateful you are stepping into this space of leadership. Here are some suggestions for how to lead the Latino students in your group. 

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The 5 Tips

1. Hospitality: “Bienvenidos” 

As a small group leader, you always want to be asking yourself, “How can I be a good host in this setting?” When you host well, it increases the comfort level of everyone present and places them in a position to be actively engaged in Bible study, prayer, and community time. 

2. Community Centered: “En Conjunto” 

Listen well to other people’s comments and build on their ideas so that the Holy Spirit can bring us to the truth of Scripture together. Acknowledge each other’s ideas and don’t compete about who is smarter. This practice may feel unusual for participants who are accustomed to the leader doing most of the talking.  

When appropriate, encourage participants to say something like: 

  • “I love what Minerva said about ____. It makes me think that ____.” 
  • “I agree with Esteban about ____, and I want to add that ____.” 

This encourages community, clarity, confidence, belonging, and space for all voices in the group.  

3. Enjoy Life: “Gozar La Vida” 

Study Scripture with seriousness but also with a sense of lifegiving joy (gozo). Have fun with the passage, knowing the Lord’s love and grace is present in His Word as we study together. In many Latino Churches, it is common—even in the midst of times of loss and difficulty—to hear the Word and then pause in worship to praise the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness. So take time to laugh, worship, and enjoy your experience together with the Lord. 

4. Respect Diversity 

While many of us have a common language and some wonderful cultural similarities, we must respect our inter-ethnic diversity. Even with our shared heritage, we bring unique perspectives. Listen carefully to your hermanos and hermanas who have different backgrounds and ethnic roots from you, seeking out both commonalities and differences that enrich our understanding of Scripture. When you come across a difference, pause to celebrate and explore it. Phrases like “Tell me more” and “I wouldn’t have noticed that” can help the conversation go deeper. 

Note: Be aware that we also have church background diversity—Catholic, Protestant, charismatic—that we should respect, honor and learn from. 

5. Spanish Language Awareness 

Before you begin to lead, get a sense of how many Spanish language speakers you have in your group. This will help you to know how much Spanish and English to speak. For example, if everyone in the group is fully bilingual, it would be appropriate to freely utilize both languages, or just Spanish, during the Bible study. This will give students the freedom to use Spanish words that feel more descriptive or hold a stronger image for them. If several students do not speak Spanish, the group leader must also be sensitive enough to have everything translated to avoid confusion and alienation. 

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Rev. Dr. Orlando Crespo serves as the National LaFe Director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Co-Chair of the 2030 Underserved Initiative. He is presently a member of the President’s Council and the National Leadership Team. Orlando also wrote an IVP book called Being Latino in Christ: Finding Wholeness in Your Ethnic Identity.  

Dr. Crespo holds a BA degree from Colgate University and a Doctor of Ministry from New York Theological Seminary. Outside of his ministry work with InterVarsity, Orlando serves as the Associate Pastor of New Life in the Bronx C&MA Church, which he co-planted in 1998. He and his wife Maritza live with their two sons—Daniel and David—in the Bronx, NY. On his time off, Orlando enjoys tennis, playing his bass guitar and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.

René Aguirre, on staff for over 22 years, serves as the Senior Associate LaFe Director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He provides supervision and pastoral care for the Staff in the LaFe Dept. As a certified specialist in Clifton Strengths, he also provides leadership development for LaFe staff throughout movement.  

As the Director of InterVarsity’s National Latino Student Conferences—LaFe07, LaFe10, and LaFe13—René helped to strengthen InterVarsity’s ability to disciple Latino students and train Staff in Latino student outreach. René has an Accounting and Finance degree from Texas Tech University, and he and his wife presently live in Dallas, TX. 

Steve Tamayo serves as a strategist for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, working in the Latino Fellowship and the Creative Labs. In these roles, he equips and resources InterVarsity's national pivot to online ministry. He is the showrunner for the podcasts Con Confianza and Ministry During the Disruption.

Steve holds degrees from Duke University and the University of Oxford. In addition to his work with InterVarsity, Steve has served as the executive pastor at Chatham Community Church and the pastor of spiritual formation at Crossway Church. He is also the CEO of Orange Apple, a consulting firm that helps non-profits and small businesses make better decisions. He and his wife live with their four children in Tampa.


Lina was born in Bogotá, Colombia South America, where she studied in the Statistics Master degree program, at the National University of Colombia, and was a Professor of Statistics for 20 years. While still a university student she renewed her commitment to Jesus and served as National Advisor in the Christian University Student Ministry for 25 years. 

Lina, her husband Wilson, and their three children Andrés, Adriana, and Denise have lived in the USA since 1996. Lina was a Professor of Languages and Cultures at Wheaton College for 15 years. Throughout this time, she also continued her ministry with college students joining InterVarsity Christian Fellowship where she has been a National Advisor for the past 25 years. 

She obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries at Northern Seminary, in Chicago, IL, and her Certificate as Spiritual Director and Supervisor for Spiritual Directors at North Park Seminary, in Chicago, IL. She has served as a member of the Central Conference Spiritual Direction Network Leadership Team, and delights in being a companion and witness of God’s love and grace to people in Spiritual Direction.